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'There’s no crisis at NSFAS'

The Higher Education Department insists there’s no crisis at the National Students Financial Aid Scheme following the resignation of its chairman Sizwe Nxasana.

Sizwe Nxasana. Picture: nsfas.org.za

JOHANNESBURG - The Higher Education Department insists there’s no crisis at the National Students Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) following the resignation of its chairman Sizwe Nxasana.

Nxasana is stepping down at a time where NSFAS is facing challenges with allocating allowances to students and payment backlogs from 2017 and 2018.

In a statement released on Thursday, Nxasana says since December 2016, the NSFAS payment system has been under extreme strain.

Last year former President Jacob Zuma announced that government would subsidise free higher education for poor and so-called missing middle students.

LISTEN: Professor Jonathan Jansen: Zuma's fees announcement caused havoc for NSFAS

The department's Lunga Ngqengelele says while NSFAS is under extreme pressure, they're working to improve their systems.

“There isn’t a crisis because we have a large majority of students getting NSFAS. If there’s one student that doesn’t get funding as they’re supposed to, it’s a matter of serious concern for Minister Naledi Pandor.”

Earlier this week, the Education for Social Justice Foundation urged the scheme to find a solution to ensure students are able to apply for financial aid.

Higher Education Minister Naledi Pandor said last month that financial aid applications would be closed for the 2019 academic year until the backlog for this year and 2017 is cleared.

Chairperson of the foundation, Hendrick Makaneta, questioned the decision.

“We don’t believe that you should resolve the current challenges by stopping students from applying. The National Student Financial Aid Scheme must set up a team which can deal with the backlog while new applications are sent to them.”

Additional reporting by Ahmed Kajee.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)

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